Does french rap music rime with feminism ?

Rap music, which most people consider to be rather misogynistic, is not consistent with feminism. And yet, it is. Of course, it can’t be denied that there is other degrading music towards women. But there are some rap songs that are respectful of women, egalitarian and pro-feminist, proving they have other facets more interesting about women and their rights. In the mainstream media, most of the time when they talk rap music, it’s often because of clashes between Booba and his multiple rivals, to denounce sexism in Orelsan’s or Kaaris’ lyrics, or to criticize Sofiane, the rapper who blocked a motorway for one of his music videos. It is certainly not to highlight the art that is French rap, with lyrics so beautiful, and truly important messages. Nor do they seek to change the stereotypes that picture rap as misogynist and sexist, when in fact many rappers deliver pro-feminist messages, proving that French rap and feminism can go hand in hand.

Médine, Combat de femme (Woman’s fight)

In three verses, the rapper from Le Havre describes the journey of a mother, a sister and a wife. The strength of this music is that the text does not even have a moralist goal; it’s just a simple statement that indirectly aims at making you relate. This music is incredibly feminist, it lists and clearly indicates the cultural and social inequalities women suffer from, while praising the women who master their own destinies, whom men entirely rely on.

When mothers give birth to girls and girls become women

Become sisters, damsels and ladies

Women fight and have since the early ages

And whatever their name they are synonymous with courage

The face that comforts our carcasses

Cancels the hassle, relieves sarcasm

At the slightest problem, she jumps into combat

Fighting lionesses, fighting princesses and queens

Lorsque les mères enfantent les filles et les filles deviennent femmes

Deviennent des sœurs, des demoiselles puis des dames

Combattre au féminin et ce depuis les premiers âges

Et quelque soit leur nom elles sont synonymes de courage

Le visage qui réconforte nos carcasses

Éloigne du tracas, soulage des sarcasmes

Au moindre problème se jette dans l'arène

Combat de lionnes, combat de princesses et de reines

Georgio, Svetlana et Maïakovski (Svetlana and Maïakovski)

This title could just be telling about one particular Parisian prostitute, but it’s more than that. It is the story of a young Russian woman, whose dreams were broken, finding herself without money with the obligation to prostitute herself, damaged by alcohol and disillusions, who lives a hard and lonely life and who seems to have abandoned the desire to escape and is letting herself die. With a poetic feel to it, the text sounds as raw as Vladimir Maïakovski’s poems, but the song is very moving thanks to the depth of the melody. The young rapper, a Parisian from the 18th arrondissement, gives this woman her humanity back, when she was considered as a mere object.

Svetlana contacte ses amis, ment sa vie sur Internet

La princesse de la toundra n'est qu'une pute à Paris

Elle se cache pour pleurer, en séchant ses yeux elle comprit

Qu'elle essuyait ses rêves, qu'ici, c'est la guerre froide sans trêve

Svetlana calls her friends, lies about her life on the Internet

The princess of the tundra is only a whore in Paris

She hides to cry, drying her eyes she understands

That she wiped her dreams, that here it’s the cold war with no truce

 

IAM – Une femme seule (A single woman)

An ode to single mothers, this song deals with a common social phenomenon that is rarely sung about: single parenthood, one of the most unquestionable inequality between men and women. Thousands of mothers take sole responsibility for their children, which often prevents them from blossoming in their personal or professional life. Akhenaton (the rapper) only reveals the identity of the protagonist at the end, with humility: ‘If I speak to you in this sincere, open way / It’s because that single woman was my mother’.

She was dignified worthy proud as a mother

Ignoring the loneliness that took her in its claws

The day she remained head high, unblinking

The night in her room she was hiding to cry

She was working two jobs

To be able to buy decent clothes to her children

Elle était digne fière responsable comme une mère 

Ignorant la solitude qui la prit dans ses serres 

Le jour la tête haute impassible elle restait 

La nuit dans sa chambre elle se cachait pour pleurer 

Elle travaillait faisait deux jobs en même temps 

Pour pouvoir payer des vêtements décents à ses enfants

S-Crew, Les Parisiennes (Parisian women)

In this funky song, the four Parisians of S-Crew tell us about the party life and loves of the Parisian women: a never-ending parade of cocktails and conquests, where physical appearance is the key. With this song, they describe how Parisian women see love as a game because of their previous bad relationships where they suffered. The four rappers show us how these young women enjoying their independence to the fullest.

written by Chahinaz, translated by Lucie